The rapid growth of the data consumption in India over the last two years took online streaming company Netflix by surprise, and it sees a potential of adding a potential 100 million customers from the country going forward.

“It definitely helps to have confidence in the growth of the internet. Even we couldn't predict the last two years of Indian internet growth,” said Hastings in a panel called Future of Entertainment at The Economic Times Global Summit 2018 in New Delhi.

The growth in the Indian internet market was driven by the launch of Reliance Industries’ Jio in mid-2016, which led to a rapid fall in the cost of data across top operators like Airtel and Vodafone-Idea.

Netflix had launched its India operations two years ago in January 2016 and has been able to capture significant market share here, with a focus on the top 10-20 million internet consumers.

“It’s the most phenomenal example anywhere in the world of low internet costs, expansion of 4G. We didn't see that coming and we just got lucky on that one,” said Hastings in a panel discussion moderated by Ronnie Screwvala, founder of Upgrade and UTV Motion Pictures.

Hastings also said that for India to become a $10 trillion economy, the key aspect will be to avoid wars. And that’s where players like Netflix come in whose content helps different countries understand the culture.

“If you look over the 1,000 years whenever there is a war there is a big setback. One part of that is communities understanding each other and the other part is entertainment,” said 57-year-old Stanford computer science postgraduate.

Hastings took the example of Love Per Square Foot, a recent original movie that it produced out of India. He said while the movie has done well in India, it has also been doing well in United States, United Kingdom, and Mexico.

Hastings also said that he expects the next level of growth to come from international markets, where countries like India will have a significant contribution.

“The next 100 million is from India. We are at 120 million across the world,” he said, adding that Netflix will be “giant exporters of Indian content". Earlier today, Netflix also announced three Indian original productions, which include Ghoul, Leila, and Crocodile.

He added that while Netflix costs Rs 500-800 a month in India, which is more than cable TV subscription cost. But he said the Indian market is unique Pay TV cost is subsidized by ads, and Netflix is an ad-free network.

“It's about what a movie ticket would cost. We would like consumers to compare it with that (movie ticket) than what they pay for cable TV,” said Hastings.  - Tech Gig